The Conservative MP John Redwood has provoked derision on social media with a call to buy cars manufactured in Britain. He tweeted:
You do not have to buy German or French cars. There is a good choice of models, prices & specifications available from UK car factories.— John Redwood (@johnredwood) April 21, 2017
Twitter users promptly responded that very few of the cars assembled in Britain were made by British companies. The majority are destined for export, made by companies that are not British-owned and rely on components manufactured overseas.
@johnredwood Mr Redwood - list the great cars that don't connect back to the EU? Thanks.— Paul Unwin Saboteur (@UnwinPaul) April 21, 2017
Others were quick to suggest that British-made vehicles of the past did not have the best of reputations.
According to the AA, which produces a guide to buying British cars, there are only three fully British-owned car manufacturers in the UK: Morgan, Caterham and McLaren.
All three produce high-end luxury cars. Morgan markets the EV3, a £52,000 bespoke hand-crafted electric car.
The AA also lists models that are assembled in Britain, but which do not have British owners. These include Mini, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Lotus, Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Jaguar, Land Rover and Vauxhall.
Social media users also commented that at least one manufacturer in the UK appears to have needed a post-Brexit vote “sweetener” deal to be convinced to continue to invest in the country.
The car manufacturing process is highly intertwined with the customs union that the UK will leave as part of a hard Brexit. The crankshaft of a BMW Mini, for example, crosses the channel three times, travels 2,000 miles and visits England, France and Germany during its manufacture.
Redwood, the MP for Wokingham, has long been an advocate for leaving the EU. He has argued that Brexit will enable an end to austerity politics in the UK and has been campaigning for the government to adopt a buy-British policy on buses and trains.
In a blog post on Friday about buying British goods, Redwood argued that “if by any chance the rest of the EU does turn down our offer of tariff free trade in an unlikely fit of self harm, we can find plenty of cheaper and better substitutes” such as English cheese and English wine.